Measuring page views, average time on site, bounce rate, or clicks from AdWords just doesn’t cut it anymore. You absolutely need to measure your website’s performance. It’s not about how your visitors start or where they come from, it’s about what they do and what they don’t do.
And, it’s not very difficult to do.
Google Analytics allows you to create up to 20 goals in any individual profile. With a maximum of 50 profiles per Google Analytics account, you have the possibility to create as many as one thousand goals in your account! One thousand!
Let me show you how to create a goal in Google Analytics, so that you can start measuring true web site outcomes today. First, there are three types of Goals that Google Analytics offers:
– URL Destination: The URL (after the .com part) that a user sees in their address bar when they reach an important page of your site. Your shopping cart’s “Thank You” page, a receipt page, or a download page are all examples of important pages on your site (They’re important because it took a user to perform an important action, like fill out an inquiry form or buy something from your store).
– Time on site: The time that users spend on your site can be tracked as a goal. If you think that a successful visit to your site means that a user spent more than five minutes on it, you can set it up as a Goal. If you think spending less than 30 minutes on your site is a successful visit, you can also set that up as well.
– Pages/Visit: The pages per visit that users view can also be measured as a Goal. Suppose 8 or more pages per visit denotes a successful visit for you, or less than 20 pages per visit is a success, it can be measured.
To set up a Goal, log-in to your Google Analytics account and click on the Edit link, which is found to the far right of where your profile is listed on the Overview screen. Scroll down to find the Goals window. Click on Add goal in Goal Set 1 to begin.
From here, you’ll be able to enter in a goal name, activate it (turn the goal on or leave it off), and edit the goal position. The 20 available goals per profile are organized into four buckets of five goals each. Next, choose from one of the three goal types described above. If you choose URL Destination, you’ll be able to enter in the Goal URL and a Goal Value. Enter in everything after the .com or .net part of your URL, and leave the goal on Head Match (There are many other possibilities when dynamic URLs and regular expressions are involved, but I’ll save those for a later blog post). You also enter in a funnel of up to ten pages, where you can track the specific path website visitors take to reach your goal pages.
If you choose either Time on Site or Pages/Visit as the goal type, you’ll be able to enter in the time in hours, minutes, or seconds, or enter in the number of pages per visit. Each of these goal types allow you to choose “greater than” or “less than” options, depending on what you want to track. You’ll also be encouraged to enter in a goal value, so that you can associate a score (value) to each Goal Conversion.
Once you save your Goals, they will start to track right away. You’ll also notice tabs in most reports within Google Analytics labeled “Goal Set 1”. This is where report-level goal data is available. You’ll also find that you won’t need to play the guessing game any longer as far as how your site and marketing initiatives are performing. You’ll be able to see the performance of your site against its goals, which in turn, lets you make smarter, more confident decisions about your online presence.
Earlier today at eMetrics in Washington, D.C., the Google Analytics team announced some awesome new features that will provide greater reporting capabilities, more flexible customization options, and add an element of insightful intelligence to your report data. How exciting!
Let’s review the newest features of the Google Analytics Product that were announced today as “Powerful. Flexible. Intelligent.”:
1. Expanded Goals – Expanded Goals now allow administrators the ability to add up to 20 Goals per profile, a 500% increase on the previous number of four goals per profile!
2. Site Engagement Goals – Site Engagement Goals now allow you to more robustly measure user-engagement and branding efforts off of your web site. Instead of only being able to define URLs as goals, you can now define the time on site or the number of page views as a goal in Google Analytics.
3. Expanded Mobile Tracking – Google Analytics will now have the ability to track mobile applications built for the iPhone and for the Android platforms. Mobile site owners will be able to install specified tracking code on their mobile site, which will allow them to analyze what actions are taken with a mobile application and what features are used.
4. Advanced Table Filtering – This will be enabled in all standard Google Analytics report tables and will allow users to filter rows based on metric conditions and combinations, just like a user can when creating an Advanced Segment.
5. Unique Visitors – This is a new metric in Google Analytics that will be available when creating a Custom Report. This makes it possible to see how many actual visitors make up any user-defined segment in a Custom Report.
7. Advanced Segment and Custom Report Sharing – Even though this was already announced, this option allows users to share Custom Reports and Advanced Segments with each other via a permanent URL that can be forwarded or emailed to another user.
8. Intelligence Reports – Intelligence Reports will be part of a brand new report section which will feature pre-defined alerts for your Google Analytics account data. This is designed to alert a Google Analytics user to a significant change in data patterns over daily, weekly and monthly periods. This is just a part of the initial release of an algorithmic driven intelligence engine.
9. Custom Alerts – Need to set-up your own alerts with your own parameters? Now you can do just that within the Intelligence Report section of Google Analytics. Define your own set of rules and make your own determinations as to what is significant for your and your web site, and even let Google Analytics email you when an alert happens!
These features are very exciting, but they are only the beginning of greater things to come in 2010. These features are also being pushed out to users over the next few weeks, so check your Google Analytics account frequently (which you do already) and be the first person on your block to use them!
Q1 of 2008 started just the other day (or so it seems) and here we are, about to begin Q2. Many marketers and business owners hold quarterly status meetings, right after a quarter has ended, to evaluate the performance of their online initiatives. Specifically, they meet to evaluate their paid search campaigns (and, they should). Chances are that they are advertising with Google AdWords. Chances are also really good that they are using the Google AdWords Conversion Tracking Feature and have a Google Analytics account running at the same time. Which, of course, makes me very proud 🙂
And, if you’re like me, you like your data like Lieutenant Commander Data – with “android-like precision”. (Yes, I just dropped a Star Trek reference. My Co-Worker’s “Resistance is Futile” blog series has inspired me to reference Star Trek more often, so you have her to thank for it).
“I am looking at my weekly / monthly / quarterly reports, and Google AdWords shows that I have received 74 conversions…but when I log in to Google Analytics, I see that I have 88 Goal Conversions for the exact same Conversion Point. Which one is right?”
There are many possibilities here. Before I can answer this, let me explain some things:
What is Google AdWords Conversion Tracking, and how it works:
What is a Goal in Google Analytics, and how it works:
A Goal in Google Analytics is when someone visits a page that has been defined as a Conversion Goal within a Google Analytics profile. The idea behind what page(s) to select for Goals in GA is identical to choosing which pages to place AdWords Conversion Code on. However, Google Analytics only requires its regular tracking code to be present on that page in order to record a Goal Conversion. Upon entering your website, up to five cookies are set on a visitor’s computer, whether they reach your Goal Conversion page or not. GA takes the number of visits to your Goal Conversion page(s), and simply does the math throughout its reports.
So…why are AdWords and Analytics Conversion Numbers Different?
There are a few different reasons:
A. Cookie Deletion / Cookie Blocking Habits
Depending on a user’s browser settings, they may be blocking the AdWords Conversion Tracking cookie, and not blocking the Google Analytics cookies, or vice-versa.
B. Script Location on Conversion Page
Because these are two different scripts, there is a possibility that one script will “execute” before a user closes their browser or leaves the page, before the other script had a chance to execute.
C. Different Servers
The Server that processes AdWords Conversion Tracking is a different server from the one that processes Google Analytics data. So, much like reason B above, one server may have finished receiving information, but another server may have not finished receiving information before a user leaves the site or closes their browser.
D. Certain Google Partner Sites
Some of Google’s Search Partner Websites (where your ads may appear) cannot have their Conversions tracked with the AdWords Conversion Tracking script. However, if you’ve coded your URLs for Google Analytics, you will still see a Conversion for “google / cpc”.
E. Google AdWords can assign a conversion to a Campaign within a 30-day period
A user may not convert right away on their first visit to your site – they may come back some days or a couple of weeks later, and then convert. If you run a report in Google AdWords one day, and run the same exact report with the same date-range a week from when you ran it the first time, chances are you may see a different number of conversions between the two reports. Google Analytics cannot go back in time and credit a prior campaign or keyword with a conversion – it can only give credit for a Goal Conversion as it happens.
The combination and the mixture of all of those reasons makes it almost impossible for the AdWords Conversion Counter and Goals in Google Analytics to be identical figures.
Final Question: “So, which one is the right one / which one should I be looking at?”
The answer here is both of them. Keep in mind that neither Google AdWords nor Google Analytics are accounting packages or server logs – you cannot use those for official bookkeeping or record-keeping. I like to say, use the number of Conversions in Google AdWords and Goals in Google Analytics as guides, while analyzing and evaluating trends and habits, not for accounting purposes.